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November 5, 2009

Sonos sextet brings a new twist

Press Democrat (CA):

They aren’t your average barbershop quartet. Neither are they your nostalgic doo-woppers, your familiar church madrigal choir or your typical fresh-faced collegiate chorus. The six-voice Sonos elevates a cappella to a new level of musical sophistication, reinterpreting contemporary artists from Bjork to Radiohead with a sound that is bold, fresh, richly textured and subtly sensual.

And they do it all without instruments or synthesized backup, although they make judicious use of electronic effects pedals that can split their vocal notes into two tones an octave apart. Their own agile voices provide a tapestry of sounds so finespun they blur the lines between vocals and instrumental/percussive back-up. They are their own band.

The sextet, which plays the Spreckels Performing Arts Center on Sunday, has been touring the country in rented minivans. They recently collaborated with renowned writer Margaret Atwood, providing choral back-up to a dramatic reading in New York of her post-apocalyptic new novel “The Year of the Flood.”

Live onstage, they’re comfortable performing acoustically. In the studio, they make electronic vocal music, with their collection of pedals and loops serving as the seventh member of the ensemble, according to Hoye, who also attended UCLA.

McLain, in addition to singing leads and harmonies, is the resident beatboxer, a form of vocal percussion. “I’m literally not singing or phonating through my chords. I’m flapping around my tongue and lips and clicking,” he says.

He honed his skill as a kid growing up in Kenwood. He recorded his first tracks on his dad’s little mini tape recorder. “My first cassette was Salt-N-Pepa and my first album was Dr. Dre. I was in fourth or fifth grade,” he says with a laugh. He emphasized that while the group does try to evoke sounds, they aren’t overtly trying to imitate guitars and other musical instruments, as some collegiate a capella groups do.

Sonos fuses a classic choral sensibility with a modern repertoire of music, performing covers of Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal,” Rufus Wainwright’s “Oh What a World” and Imogen Heap’s “Come Here Boy.” Read more.

Posted by acapnews at November 5, 2009 9:28 PM


Where will you perform after today's "Philadelphia Folk Fest" appearance?

Love your sound. Stay together-you will soar.


Posted by: Patricia Graham at August 21, 2010 7:21 AM

I absolutely love this place! Malcolm


Posted by: Malcolm at May 31, 2011 7:46 AM

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